I learned long ago to only talk to my mom on my own terms. I never answer when she calls; I find a time when I genuinely want to talk to her and cultivate my most generous attitude. I physically smile before I make the call, and then I dive in.
But, I realized the other day that there is always a singular moment that completely shuts me down. It’s usually a gross over-exaggeration, a too-dramatic response, or something else that demonstrates her lack of emotional maturity and awareness. It makes me angry and disappointed, and I lose my generous spirit and smile in an instant. The rest of the call is forced, and I can’t change my tone or responses for the world.
I mentioned this to my therapist, and she again suggested that it is optimism that compels me to believe that this time will be different, that I can control both sides of the conversation. So, she asked whether I can make it a little game–I know it’s coming, so what if I take a guess as to how long it will take to come. Will it be 30 seconds? Can she actually make it a minute? Bonus points if there are two or more instances per call… And, for the first time in my life, I actually have a plan for our conversations that results in something other than frustration, annoyance, and anger.